Admiration not enough for Danish Fischer

There was one passage of play in Denmark’s 3-0 defeat to Brazil last Monday that encapsulated the threat that Viktor Fischer poses to defenders. Collecting the ball on the left flank, parallel to the touchline, the blond forward bore down on right-back Wallace, playing the ball through his marker’s legs before cutting into the box and unleashing a fierce shot that seemed destined for the top corner. Only the brilliance of keeper Charles, an outstanding performer for Brazil on the day, denied the dashing Dane, who served notice of his tremendous potential in a superb yet ultimately fruitless display.

As discovered the following day in discussing his talents with some members of the Danish delegation, the teenager’s display was nothing out of the ordinary by his standards, the only surprise being that he did not get his name on the scoresheet. And as Fischer himself later explained, he was not entirely satisfied with his contribution in a game that left Denmark with it all to do in Group F of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011. “I wasn’t 100 per cent happy with my performance,” he admitted.

“I had a few chances that could have changed the course of the match," he went on. "It could have given us the chance to turn the game around and even go on and win it. To lose 3-0 was excessive if you ask me, and I should have put those chances away. That’s why I’m not entirely satisfied. For me it was an OK game.”

A step forward That appraisal is an indication of the huge expectations the player is generating, though as Denmark coach Thomas Frank explained, those expectations are well-founded: “He really is a very skilful player, very talented, and among the best to have come out of Denmark in recent years.”

Having produced such talents as Michael and Brian Laudrup, the Danes know a thing or two about nurturing great players. And as they showed in qualifying for Mexico 2011 at the UEFA U-17 European Championship, the Scandinavians have another gifted generation on their hands. “We’ve been focusing on technique in Danish football over the last four or five years and that’s helped us bring players like Fischer through,” added Frank. “We hope that’s going to be the future of football in Denmark.”

A goalscorer in Thursday’s 4-2 defeat to Côte d’Ivoire, a result that has left the Europeans on the brink of elimination, the cultured Fischer has proved to the world that he has the technique and the intelligence to go far. His refined skills were a feature of Denmark’s meeting with the Brazilians, and in taking on opposing defenders and linking up with his team-mates he was rarely out of the action.

“I always keep an eye on defenders to see where there’s an opportunity or a bit of space to get in on goal or play in one of my team-mates,” said Fischer, who grew up in awe of Thierry Henry during his rampaging days with Arsenal and France. “I’ve already taken a look by the time I get the ball and I know what I’m going to do with it.”

These days the Dane lists Lionel Messi among his role models, and also enjoys seeing Spanish flyer Pedro and Italy’s Mario Balotelli in action. Away from football, he likes nothing better than to watch the NBA, naming Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose as his favourite player. That admiration is based on more than Rose’s darting runs into the paint and his acrobatic dunks, however. “He’s never anything less than committed and he’s always full of confidence,” said Fischer by way of explanation. “He’s a fantastic young player and he’s just been voted MVP.”

Leader of the pack Rose has also earned approval for his relaxed attitude and behaviour off the court, preferring to do most of his talking on it. Those are qualities Fischer himself possesses, inspiring confidence among the Danish coaching staff that here is a player who has what it takes to fulfil his rich promise.

In their view, Fischer - who joined Ajax after being courted by several other big European clubs - is a born leader of men who has a way with words and the ability to inspire his colleagues, whether during a match or a team-bonding exercise. Nor is he too big a star to recognise his own shortcomings: “I’m a good passer of the ball and I can dribble well too, but that’s not enough if there’s no goal at the end of it.”